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Leap Into the Future - LeapMotion

posted Jan 30, 2013, 9:57 PM by Ellen Pearlman

Leap Into the Future - LeapMotion

Though it will not ship until the winter, Leap Motion has created a finger recognition camera/gadget that is setting fire to the geek/hack community. Using an all-flat screen sensing camera it can detect finger movement within 1/100 of a millimeter.

Leap camera/sensor

As I wrote in a previous blog about gesture recognition technology, Leap Motion refines the algorithm for a hand to much more than 25 points, with special emphasis on finger tip digit motion. I was lucky enough to be shown a prototype of Leap, as it is being manufactured in China and not yet ready for prime time. My demonstration took place, believe it or not, in a hot dog, hamburger, french fries and beer joint near Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. The place had long wooden tables and overhanging lights. The lights messed up the sensitivity of the camera, which means to my knowledge there is definitely infra red sensing going on.

Actual location where demo took place - notice overhead lights

Created by co-founders Michael Buckwald and David Holz it uses three tiny cameras and at this point needs to attach to a computer, though the idea is to embed it into different devices. It does not have a lot of latency, something that confounds most devices, but what it does have comes from both the refresh rate on the screen, and the data transfer of the USB plug in. Not a lot comes from LEAP itself and what there is is not perceptible to a normal person.

Each finger is individual recognized and mapped

However at this point the camera only works within 4- 8 cubic feet from one’s hands, which is even less than the Kinect, which works from up to 12 feet away from the sensor camera. Using Leap resembles what Tom Cruise did in Minority Report, moving images on a screen by waving his hand.

Squiggly fingers in real time

Leap will not be used just for computers, and will control all sorts of things via gesture in the 3D world. The designers brought motion control to the desktop instead of what has been built for TV (large gesture sensing) and minimized it for computers.

Word on the street is its 200 times more sensitive than the Kinect

One tech writer marveling on the Leap wrote we are getting much closer to ““hyper-local projection of the human presence using virtual imagery and holograms.

Holz dropped out from a math Ph.D program and took four years to find the right algorithm to make it work.  You can be sure it was the smartest thing he ever did.

To watch the videos of Leap Motion in action, go to the following link: